Grease Pollution

What is grease and why is it a concern?

Grease is found in many common household products, including meat, butter and margarine, shortening, lard, food scraps, dairy products, cooking oil, and sauces.

As grease gets poured down the drain and enters the sewer, it hardens and builds up over time. This creates blockages in the sewer and causes sewer back-ups and overflows. A sewage back-up into your house or your neighbor’s can damage plumbing and your belongings. These damages are costly to fix and the increase in operations and maintenance on the sewer system may lead to higher sewer bills. Sewage also contains harmful bacteria and may attract disease-carrying organisms like vermin or insects. Sewage overflows may also enter local beaches and may be a hazard to swimmers and marine life.

What can homeowners do to prevent grease from entering the sewer system?

  • grease in roots

    Grease covers a root system

    Be aware of the products you are pouring down the drain

  • Educate friends and family about the proper disposal of grease
  • Follow the suggestions below for disposing of grease properly
  • Never pour grease down the drain or toilet
  • Scrape pans and dishes into the trash before rinsing or washing them
  • Garbage disposals grind food and grease into smaller pieces but do not keep grease out of the sewer system. Grease and food waste containing fats, oils and grease should go in the trash.
  • Commercial additives and household detergents claim to dissolve grease, but they only move the grease into a drain or sewer line where it may harden and cause a blockage
  • If disposing of large amounts of grease, place the grease in a can or a milk jug with a lid and put the can in the trash
  • Mix the grease with an absorbent material such as sawdust or kitty litter to prevent leaks while it is being transported to the trash

How can restaurants and building owners help?

  • Install grease traps or interceptors. For them to work properly:
    • They must be designed to handle the amount of grease that is expected
    • They must be properly installed
    • They must be maintained (cleaned and serviced on a regular basis)
    • Solids should never be put into grease traps or interceptors
  • Educate your employees on the subject of proper grease disposal. City Utilities can provide you with information on typical kitchen and clean-up practices that can reduce the amount of grease leaving your kitchen.

How is the City of Fort Wayne helping prevent sewer back-ups?

  • Sewer line flusher/vacuum truck

    A combination flusher/vacuum truck can both flush or “jet” sewer lines with high pressure water and vacuum out debris

    Line Flushing – Sewer line flushing or jetting involves putting a high-pressure water hose into a sewer line and using the water to move accumulated debris in the sewer. Sometimes the material is then vacuumed out of the sewer line at the next manhole or the material may be allowed to flow on to the sewage treatment plant.

  • Degreasing – City Utilities tracks sewer lines that frequently become clogged with grease. These lines, which are often in areas with a high concentration of restaurants, are put on a routine schedule for degreasing. Degreasing involves using high pressure water to remove grease that has accumulated on the walls of sewer pipes. Sometimes it is necessary to cut away grease blockages and vacuum them out of the sewer lines, especially if the grease has accumulated on tree roots growing into the sewer lines.
  • Root removal – Tree roots frequently grow in sewer lines. Roots may enter the sewer through tiny cracks and may grow large enough inside the sewer line to cause a blockage. City Utilities uses a remotely-controlled sawing device to cut the roots then vacuums them out of the sewer.

What do I do in the event of a sewer back-up?